Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

June 14, 2013

Morris fest offers long toss cornhole

Debbie Blank
The Herald-Tribune

— The 26th Morris Firemen’s Festival has a new challenge for attendees, long toss cornhole. Strong, accurate arms will be needed Saturday, June 22, to throw the beanbags about 70 feet, says David “Bluegill” Higham, Morris Firemen’s Association Board of Directors president, who co-chairs the event with Fire Chief Randy Merkel.

Like last year, the day will end joyfully with fireworks at dusk co-sponsored by St. Anthony Catholic Church.

There are three reasons citizens flock to the church grounds: the friendly atmosphere, vast number of prizes and hometown cooking. Higham reports, “The ladies (in the firefighters’ auxiliary) fix our dinner and it’s pretty good.”

The fundraiser kicks off with a 5K run/walk (please see box). Registration at $20, which includes a T-shirt, starts an hour earlier.

Games play a big part in the day’s fun. Youngsters will win trinkets if they do well at contests manned by Morris Shamrocks 4-H Club members. Amusements include digging through sand in a kiddie pool for hidden treasures, putt-putt, a fish bowl, ring toss, tic-tac-toe, sucker pull and, weather permitting, bounce house, reports Michelle Hoff, one of six leaders. Each game can be played with one or two 50-cent tickets.

“The kids (ages 3-8) can’t wait to get out there and try” the pedal tractor pull, according to the president. “The parents are coaching the kids. It’s standing room only.” Free registration begins an hour earlier. If there is a tie in an age group, more weight is added. Winners get trophies.

Lucky adults can go home with money and prizes at three raffles. A reverse raffle will award $2,350 in cash. Only 300 $20 tickets will be sold and ticket-holders do not have to be present to win. All tickets will be drawn. When a ticket is pulled out matters: first ticket drawn, $200; 100th and 200th, $100; last three tickets drawn, $200, $300 and $1,000. Every 25th ticket grabbed in between the big winners will get $50.

Other entrants will win even more cash from the regular raffle, which boasts around 34 prizes. They include $300, $200 and smaller dollar amounts and also $25 gift certificates. Tickets at six for $5 or $1 each are available from any firefighter or can be purchased that day.

The ladies’ auxiliary will offer its own raffle of a modern quilt made by members as well as assorted other prizes, including a doll and kids’ emergency vehicle, according to board member Shari Strassell. Tickets are $1 each, six for $5 or 15 for $10.

Many attendees look forward to the flavorful food. Drive-through carryout fried chicken will be available at the firehouse. A whole chicken sells for $10, and a half is $5, Higham notes.

Dinners at $10 for adults and $6 for children will be served in the air-conditioned Schad Hall, according to auxiliary President Pam Scheele. They include chicken or roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn or green beans, bread, coleslaw or applesauce, dessert and drink. The homemade desserts are prepared by association members and other volunteers. Donations may be brought to the hall after 9 a.m. on fest day.

Hamburgers, hot dogs and walking tacos will be sold after the kitchen closes, reports kitchen chair Chuck Hartman.

Beer and wine also may be purchased.

As families wander the grounds, they can enjoy the “upbeat country” music of the band Now and Then.

Festival proceeds will be saved up for a new brush truck and equipment, Merkel says. The volunteer department’s 25 firefighters include seven medical first responders, one female.

In addition to Merkel, Higham, Strassell and Hartman, committee members include Bob Hartman, Anna Hartman, Kyle Wilson and Aaron Hoff.

The committee’s greatest challenge in organizing the fundraiser is getting enough manpower. In addition to firefighters and auxiliary members, area supporters are needed for shifts of several hours selling tickets, working in the kitchen, serving food, washing dishes and picking up trash. Volunteers may call Randy Merkel at 812-212-0650 or Dave Higham at 513-314-9493.

Morris Firemen’s Festival

Saturday, June 22

St. Anthony’s Catholic Church grounds

9 a.m.       5K run/walk begins

3-7 p.m.    Whole and half chickens available for carryout at firehouse

4 p.m.      Games begin

4-7 p.m.    Reverse raffle

4-8 p.m.    Fried chicken and roast beef dinners plus carryouts

5:30 p.m.  Long toss cornhole

6 p.m.        Kids’ tractor pull

6:30-11 p.m. Now and Then

9 p.m.        Fireworks, then announcements of regular raffle winners